Andrew A. Brown

Believed to have been taken circa February 1862, at Madison, Wisconsin.

Photo RG985-CWP-161.82, Wm. Schultz College, U.S. Army Military History Institute.

Andrew A. Brown

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Andrew A. Brown
Birth Name Andreas Anfinsen Bryn
Other Names Andreas Anfindsen, Arnfinnsen
Patronymic Name Anfinsen
Lived 27 Mar 1841 - 1 Dec 1912
Birth Place Bryn farm, Voss parish, Hordaland fylke
Birth Country Norway
Residence at Muster-In Chicago, Cook County, IL
Company at Enlistment H
Rank at Enlistment Private
Muster Date 14 Dec 1861
Death Location Port Williams, Clallam County, WA
Burial Location Sequim Cemetery, Sequim, Clallam County, WA
Mother Anna Larsdatter Istad
Mother Lived 1799-30 Dec 1887
Father Anfin Josefsen Bryn
Father Lived 1799- 1850
Immigration 13 Jul 1850
Spouse Kristine Askjelsdatter Flåm
Spouse Lived April 1851-
Married On May 1868
Marriage Location Northfield, Rice County, MN

Anders Anfinsen Bryn arrived in New York July 13, 1850 on the Kong Sverre with his parents and 4 brothers. The family then traveled to Chicago where his father died before the 1850 census.

As soon as the war began, Andreas Arnfinnsen Bryne tried to enlist for three months in the WI 3rd Infantry Regiment, but did not actually join because, it was said, he did not have his mother's permission. He tried again and enlisted as Private (Menig) Andrew A. Brown for 3 years service in Company H of the 15th WI on December 14, 1861, in Madison, Dane County, WI. The company called itself "Heg's Rifles," but was also known as the "Voss Company" because so many of its members were from that region of Norway. From Camp Randall, Private Brown wrote the following to his mother in a letter dated December 16, 1861:

"...such have been my troubles and cares since I entered the military that I have had little or now time to write. It looks very tough but yet I hope it will come out all right in the end. I hope that God who presides in the councils of nations and shapes the destines of mankind will bring things all right in the end."

Private Brown was mustered into Federal service on January 17, 1862, at Camp Randall, near Madison. At the time he was 21 years old and not married. His residence was listed as Chicago, IL. Prior to enlisting he immigrated with his parents in 1850. His father Anfind died the year after. Andrew (Andreas) began in his early teens to learn masonry. He had attended Beloit College in Beloit, Rock County, WI, and had worked as an office clerk at a sawmill in Woodstock, IL. Private Brown was elected to the position of 1st Lieutenant (second-in-command) of Company H by a vote of the members of the company. At the recommendation of the 15th's commander, Colonel Hans C Heg, Private Brown was then commissioned by the Governor of Wisconsin as the 1st Lieutenant (Premiérløitnant) of Company H on February 11, 1862, to rank from January 17, 1862. At that time the company was commanded by Captain Knud J. Sime and its third-in-command was 2nd Lieutenant John Johnson.

After six weeks at Camp Randall learning to be an officer, Lieutenant Brown left there in early March 1862, with his company and regiment to join the war. He accompanied them as far as Bird's Point, MO, on the Mississippi River, where he was left behind in charge of the regiment's sick. While there he served as the Post Adjutant. From late March until June 1862, he was listed as "present" with the 15th. As such he would have participated in the successful siege of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River in Tennessee, and the surprise raid on Union City, TN, in March and April 1862.

Lieutenant Brown was initially passed over for promotion when Captain Sime resigned and left the Army in early May 1862. Instead, Colonel Heg recommended, and the Governor commissioned, 2nd Lieutenant George Wilson of Company B to be the new Captain of Company H. Lieutenant Brown became ill in June 1862, and remained behind when his company left Island No. 10 with 7 other companies of the regiment. The following is from a letter he wrote his brother on June 28, 1862.

"My sickness was but of short endurance. It lasted only some four days. In eight I started to rejoin the regiment, which I did on the 25th after traveling over hundered miles [the] greater part on foot. Our regiment is at present at Humbolts Tennessee."

That summer Lieutenant Brown was with the 15th on campaign through Tennessee, Misssissippi, and Alabama. The following is from an August 11, 1862, letter he wrote to his brother while camped near Jacinto, MS.

“The weather is much warmer now than it was in July and I am afraid it will curtain us much during the present month and a part of Sept. after that I suppose the Army will commence moving..."

However, within a week, the Army, under the command of Major General Don Carlos Buell, began a grueling 400-mile retreat northward to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water. Lieutenant Brown was present at the October 8, 1862, fighting at Perryville, Boyle County, KY, which is also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. While this was the 15th's first big battle, it emerged without any fatalities. On December 26, 1862, Lieutenant Brown participated in the 15th's desperate charge upon a Confederate artillery battery at Knob Gap, TN, just south of Nashville. There the 15th captured a brass cannon. He then fought in the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stones River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, on December 30-31, 1862. It was there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and was cited for bravery. The 15th camped in the Murfreesboro area for the next 6 months, except for 2 weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, TN. Below is Lieutenant Brown's description of that 2 weeks, taken from a February 17, 1863, letter to his mother.

"On the 31st [of January] our Division (Jeff C. Davis commanding) started on an expedition to cut off the retreat of the Rebel Cavalry that was operating near the Cumberland river north of Nashville. We had very hard marching for the roads were very muddy and the first day it rained considerable. After three days of hard marching we reached Franklin...it is about 30 mi. from this place, but by the way we went it was over forty. During the first part of our stay in Franklin it was very cold and we found it not pleasant to sleep in small shelter tents as they afford but imperfect shelter but it lasted only a few day. After staying away there eight day we returned by the same way as we came in two days hard march. Although the Rebels were not cut off we took many prisoners."

At the recommendation of Colonel Heg, 1st Lieutenant Brown was finally appointed Captain of Company H by the Governor on June 3, 1863, to rank from May 27, 1863. However, he was not mustered into Federal service at that rank until November 20, 1863, to rank from June 8, 1863 (in 1884 this was amended to rank from May 27, 1863). He filled the vacancy created when Captain Wilson was promoted to be the 15th's Major. Serving under Brown were newly promoted 1st Lieutenant Cornelius E. Williams and 2nd Lieutenant Martin A. Erickson. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in General Rosecrans' Tullahoma campaign. On July 3, 1863, it camped at Winchester, TN. On August 17, 1863, the 15th left Winchester as part of the army commanded by Major General William S. Rosecrans, to take part in what became known as the Chickamauga campaign. Captain Brown was present at the daring early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on August 28th, which the 15th led. He sent this description in a letter to his brother dated August 30, 1863, from Caperton's Ferry, AL.

"We crossed the Tennessee River yesterday morning in Poontons. Just as sunrise came over Fifty poontons might be seen pushing out from the North Side of the River covered with the soldiers of the Third (Heg's) Brigade. It was a most beautiful scene and I only regret that the artist did not arrive in time to take it."

Captain Brown commanded Company H at the September 19-20, 1863, Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia -- the second bloodiest battle of the war. There he survived the vicious fighting on the first afternoon around Viniard's Farm, as well as the near capture of the regiment at midday on the 20th during Longstreet's Breakthrough. Some 63% of the 15th's soldiers who fought at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or captured there. Captain Brown served with the regiment during the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN, which began right after the battle. The siege caused severe shortages of food and firewood. It was not until the Union Army's victorious charge up Mission Ridge on November 25, 1863, which the 15th took part in, that the siege was finally broken. Captain Brown was left sick at Chattanooga, TN, starting November 28, 1863, and then was on sick leave from December 12, 1863 until February 1864.

Captain Brown was back in command of Company H when it and the 15th participated in General Sherman's campaign to capture Atlanta during the spring and summer of 1864. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months straight. It included fighting at Rocky Face Ridge in early May; at the bloody Battle of Resaca on May 14-15; and at the disastrous Battle of Pickett's Mill (often called Dallas or New Hope Church) on May 27 where the 15th suffered 50% casualties.

On July 21, 1864, Captain Brown was wounded in the arm near Atlanta. He was then "absent sick" from the 15th recovering from his wound until sometime in August 1864. He was again in command of Company H when it took part with the regiment in fighting at Jonesboro, GA, on September 1, and at Lovejoy Station, GA, on September 4, 1864.

After a rest following the capture of Atlanta in early September 1864, the 15th was briefly assigned to Provost (police) duty in Chattanooga in early October. This was followed by several months of guarding a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, near Chattanooga. Some of the 15th's soldiers felt that was the easiest duty of their war service. During this time a Confederate army under command of General John Bell Hood moved north and laid siege to Nashville, cutting off all connections between there and Chattanooga. Captain Brown commented on this period in a January 4, 1865, letter to his mother.

"During the long period that we have been cut off from the rest of the world by Hood's movements I have been unable to obtain any definate information concerning home...During the whole time we have quietly remained at this Post doing garrison duty & enjoying all the comforts possible for a camp life...The weather is very cold...I am very busy making out my papers preparatory to being mustered out."

Captain Brown mustered out of Federal service with most of the rest of the survivors of Company H on February 13, 1865, at Chattanooga, at expiration of his 3-year term of service. There is some evidence that he remained with the Army in some capacity for a short time after muster out. There is also evidence that he and Lieutenant Colonel Ole C. Johnson were business partners in a coal mining venture near Whitesides later that same year.

After the war Andrew Brown helped to organize the first reunion of the men who had served in the 15th, which was held in Madison, WI, on December 31, 1866. At the time he was living in Chicago, but he soon moved to Northfield, Rice County, MN, where he "engaged in mercantile pursuits."

In 1869 he moved to Alexandria in Douglas County, MN. He lived there most of the next 40 years, except for 3 years spent as receiver of the U.S. Land Office in New Ulm, Brown County, MN. In Alexandria he was a member of the John F. Reynolds Post No. 51 of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R., the Union veterans organization). Other 15th members of this post included: Andrew Burke, Ole J. Urness, and his brother Anders J. Urness, of Company B; Gustave Olson of Company F; and Martin J. Norde of Company I. In 1878 Andrew Brown was elected to a term in the Minnesota State Senate. In 1887 he was appointed to a term as Trustee of the Minnesota Soldier's Home.

In 1909 he moved to the state of Washington, where the 1910 U.S. Census recorded him as living on Washington Harbor Road in the Sequim precinct near Port Williams in Clallam County. He was receiving a $15 per month veteran's pension at the time of his death 2 years later. He was survived by his wife and 5 children: Annie B. (Mrs. H. J. Bugge) born 1871; Anfina "Fena," born 1874; Ida M. (Mrs. Jon G. Dobin) born 1878; and Flora and Albert, born after 1885. Buslett's 1895 history of the 15th contains this about Captain Brown.

"Brown was very emotional, but was a respected man anyway."

 

Sources: Genealogical data from Dee Anna Grimsrud, MLIS, CGRS; Douglas County [Minnesota] Genealogical Society, Laura McCoy; Jinger Mandt; and Andrew A. Brown Papers from Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives, University of Washington Libraries; Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett (Decorah, IA, 1895); Oberst Heg og hans gutter [Colonel Heg and His Boys], Waldemar Ager (Eau Claire, WI, 1916); Regimental Descriptive Rolls, Volume 20, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, 1885); Roster of Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume 1, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, 1886); Voss parish register # A13, born and baptised, p 53, digitalarkivet.no; Norwegian Immigrants to the United States, A Biographical Directory, 1825-1850, Volume Five 1850, Blaine Hedberg and Gerhard B. Naeseth, 2008, Anundsen Publishing Co., Decorah, IA, p. 58, ID 669.


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